The quantified self

Consumers are increasingly monitoring and recording the minutiae of daily life, writes Nicola Kemp in the second of our 'Forward 50' trends series.

Nike FuelBand: allows users to monitor their activity levels
Nike FuelBand: allows users to monitor their activity levels

In the rush to laud the power of big data to drive business, many marketers are at risk of overlooking its biggest asset: its role in empowering consumers to measure, analyse and improve their lives via better use of data.

Despite lingering concerns over privacy, the Quantified Self movement is poised to become a growing force in marketing.

Consumers are signing up to collect and share personal data at a phenomenal rate, via a growing array of platforms. From activity trackers to FourSquare check-ins, they are monitoring and recording the minutiae of daily life - in effect, invading their own privacy.

Consumers are signing up to collect and share personal data at a phenomenal rate, via a growing array of platforms.

Harper Reed, chief technology officer of President Barack Obama's landmark 2012 re-election campaign, says: "Young people don't really care about privacy. The young consumer understands the relationship between their data and what they get in return."

Certainly the success of products such as Fitbit, Nike+ FuelBand and Jawbone UP, as well as the plethora of apps consumers can download directly to their smartphones, suggest many are comfortable with this trade-off.

Fiona Harkin, senior vice-president of content at trend consultancy Stylus, says: "Consumers are building data around them, whether it's an image of a product or experience, or a series of 'selfies' of how they dress."

Marketers may have tired of the rhetoric surrounding big data, but for consumers, this journey has only just begun.

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